Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Carrie Bowman, teen librarian at KCLS, reviews The False Prince and The Runaway King

Carrie Bowman booktalks The False Prince at our library
event for middle school readers.  
Are you familiar with the Ascendance Trilogy, by Jennifer Nielsen?   I picked up the first book, The False Prince, this winter and could not put it down. Treachery, daring action, suspense, and (in spite of all that) decency keep the story moving at a fast pace.  Four orphan boys are snatched by Carthyan regent, Bevin Connor, who has devised a desperate plan to save Carthya from neighboring kingdoms eager for war.  Sage, a reckless and arrogant boy, Roden, strong and conniving, and Tobias, intelligent and loyal, at first form an alliance—until they realize the nature of Connor’s plan.  He intends to train the boys in the manners and style of a gentleman, as well as in the art of sword fighting, in just two weeks!  May the best boy win…and survive.  Connor is cruel and devious.  He cannot afford to let the losers live and betray his plan.  The nature of the dangerous game is gradually revealed to the boys, and to the reader:  the winner will have the honor of impersonating Prince Jaron, who is missing and thought to be dead.  The entire royal family—Jaron’s family—has been murdered and a reappearance of the missing Prince is the only way to save Carthya.  Who will be crowned as Prince Jaron?  Can Connor’s deception succeed as planned?  Check out The False Prince to find out.  No spoilers here, except that I grabbed the second book, The Runaway King, and took it on the road with me.  What a super audio book for a road trip!  It is an equally exciting story of treason, alliances, and false betrayal, as each of the characters becomes more complex and the clock is ticking toward war in Carthya.  I can hardly wait for the third book, The Shadow Throne, due out in March 2014.  This thrilling new series is not one, but two Sweet Summer Reads so far!
-Review by Carrie Bowman, teen librarian at KCLS

Literary Birthdays

July 31 - J.K. Rowling (1965), author of the Harry Potter series 
Her advice to young, aspiring writers:  "Read as much as you possibly can. Nothing will help you as much as reading and you'll go through a phase where you will imitate your favorite writers and that's fine because that's a learning experience too."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Join the two Ms. B's at Library Event for Middle School Readers (including incoming 6th graders) Tues. July 30, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Summer Reading Treats

What have you been reading this summer?

Tuesday, July 30, 6:30–8:30pm
Mercer Island Library
Ages 11 to 14

Stop by the library to chat with teen librarian, Carrie Bowman, and IMS teacher, Ramona Behnke.  We can’t wait to hear about the books you’ve been reading and we’ll share our summer reading, too! There will be book treats as well as other (edible) treats.

Email Carrie Bowman
or call the library with questions, 206.236.3537.

Reasonable accommodation for individuals with
disabilities is available; please contact the library
prior to the event if you require accommodation.

Mercer Island Library • 4400 88th Avenue SE • 206.236.3537
Monday-Thursday, 10am-9pm • Friday, 10am-6pm • Saturday, 10am-5pm • Sunday, 1-5pm

Stop by the library to pick up the illustrated flyer with the Teen Summer Reading 2013 logo.
You do not have to be a teen to attend this event, any middle schoolers (including incoming 6th graders) are welcome.  Hope to see you Tuesday evening anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 at the library!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meet Callum, my first guest reader!

Meet Callum, avid reader, dive team member, and Canadian who has lived in the US since 2nd grade.  We met at my doctor's office.  When I walked into the waiting room after my appointment in June, I was thrilled to discover this young man reading the latest Rick Riordan book, The Mark of Athena.  A quick chat revealed that Callum not only reads lots of books, but he loves to talk about them.  He will be in sixth grade this fall, and I was surprised to discover that we live in the same community.  My doctor's office is a twenty minute drive from my home so I assumed that he was from a Seattle neighborhood.  With his mom's permission, I snapped a picture of him and promised to interview him for a guest reader post on Sweet Summer Reads.

Fast forward three weeks to a bench outside our public library where Callum and I met to talk about his reading life.  The beach bag at his feet was filled with the books that he's read this summer and wanted to share with you.

The first book out of his bag was Arcade Catastrophe, the second book in the Candy Shop War series by Brendan Mull.  Callum says one of the interesting things about this book is that it's about kids going into the sixth grade, just like him.  His favorite genre is adventure books that have action, magic, and fighting.  Callum pointed to Nate on the cover of the book and commented, "It's easy for me to imagine that I'm this character in the book."

The next book out of his bag was The Janitor's Boy by Andrew Clements.  Even though this book is kind of old (according to Callum), he reports that Clements is an awesome author who writes about a boy and his relationship with his father in The Janitor's Boy.  Callum is also reading two other books by Andrew Clements this summer,  The Last Holiday Concert and The Jacket.

The third book Callum shared was The Mark of Athena, the book that he had been reading in June when I met him at the doctor's office.  Callum remarked, "I'm pretty sure a lot of kids have read this.  It's like all Rick Riordan's books where the kids are sons and daughters of gods, and they go on magical quests.  This book has a lot of action, it's super funny, and it has an awesome cliffhanger ending so I can't wait for the fourth book."

Callum pulled Twerp out of his bag and observed that it  is "... probably the best book I've read this summer.  The book is set in the 60s so it's pretty interesting.  If you combine Joey from the Joey Pigza series with August from Wonder, you kind of get what this kid's like.  He's kind of disobedient at times, but in the end he makes things right which is good.  It's super good, so I recommend you read it."  Actually Callum's recommendation of this book when I first met him in June inspired me to move this book to the top of my TBR (to be read) pile.  Look under the comments in the Books Read in June post for my review.  You will need to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the blog in order to find the Books Read in June post.  I gave the book 4 stars, but Callum insists that it's a 5 star read!

At this point, we continued our discussion by talking about Callum's favorite places to read - his bed, his desk, and the table on his deck where he reads with his family. Callum remembers that his dad always read to him when he was little.  When asked where he finds books to read, he mentioned his classroom library where he uses this strategy to pick a book:  "I pick it up, start reading, and if I like it, I keep going.  But if I don't, I put it back."  Callum mentioned that it's good to come back to books that you might have discarded earlier.  "Last year, I tried The Candy Shop War by Brendan Mull and didn't like it.  But this year I read it on vacation and loved it."  When looking for new books, he likes to continue a series or author that he's liked before.  His favorite place to get new books is Island Books, an independent bookstore in our community.  He commented that he shops from the tables in the store.  Here's the view of what's currently on the tween reader table at Island Books.  Note the book Twerp in the lower right hand corner of the table.

What an interesting afternoon I spent with Callum as he shared his favorite reads of the summer!  Thanks, Callum, for this delightful glimpse into your reading life!

If you've completed at least three books this summer and would like to be interviewed and featured as a guest reader, contact me at this address - or leave a comment on the blog.  You don't have to be one of my students in order to be a featured guest reader.  I'm actually hoping for a Skype visit with Abby from Arkansas and perhaps one of Dr. Clay's granddaughters from Texas.  If you're a kid or adult who enjoys reading books for tweens (students in upper elementary and early middle school), feel free to leave your favorite reads under comments in the posts, Books Read in June or Books Read in July.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Links for Sweet Summer Reads 2011 and 2012

 6th graders at IMS had our first summer reading blog during the summer of 2011.  My students and I had a Sweet Summer Reads event before school was out and all the 6th graders were invited to post on the blog.  Here's the link for summer of 2011.

Last summer out blog was titled Sweet Summer Reads Blog 2012.  It was shared with students in my classes.  You'll see that I was reporting more than my students on my summer reading.  I believe that most of them were reading, they just didn't report on their reading.

My goal for this summer is to have more participation by students on the Sweet Summer Reads blog.  Remember that if you have trouble commenting, it's okay to send me an email, and I'll post your comment to the blog.

The district has moved our mailboxes to Office 365, but anything sent to the old address will be forwarded to the new address.  So it's okay to use the old email address or this new one.
New email address:

I remain optimistic and hope to see you on the blog soon!  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looking for your next great book?

These links take you to a variety of places where you can explore book titles.  Enjoy shopping for your next great read by exploring these websites and links.  Please comment on the sites that you like and let me know if any of the links are not working.  Happy reading! by blogger, Monique German provides a USA map of middle grade book covers with settings from all 50 states.  This is a fun book list.  Be sure to scroll down to see the map and the actual list of books by state.

50 States of Middle Grade Lit
(link added 8-12-13)
Wow!  I love this  post by blogger, Monique German.  She created the map and This is a fun book list.  She selected a book from each state and then incorporated the book covers into a USA map.  Some people are so creative!  Be sure to scroll down to see the map and the actual list of books by state.

HAISLN (Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network) Recommended Reading Lists 2013 -  (link added 8-2-13)
This link provides reading lists for grades K-12.  I left the Houston area 16 years ago, but I've continued to follow this excellent book list for all grades.  The document library in the green box takes you to the book list which includes a short summary. If you'd like to see the book covers and a summary, scroll down and click on the lists in the yellow box.

Bookwink - Click on the blue subject or genre to be taken to specific booklists, use the tabs on the top of the page to search by grade level, author, or title.

Find a Book! archive at Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac lets you search her archives for recommendations by age group, book type, subject, date, and more.

Read Kiddo Read - Check out the Ultimate Summer Reading List with Great Advanced Reads for ages 10 and up.  Also take a look at the year-round recommendations.

Guys Read  - This is the place to come if you’re looking for something to get a guy reading. This site includes recommendations from teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves.

Summer Reading Lists for Middle School Kids - Pragmatic Mom, a blogger I follow, provides an extensive list of books for summer reading.

A Book and A Hug - At this website, you can explore books by category or age, participate in Read Around the World, or even write your own review.  Barb Langridge, an independent children's bookseller and a children's specialist at a public library explains why she created this website:  "Books can open doors to the world. Reading really is magic and I want to help parents and young people find the books that connect to them and open the world up for them."

Booklist for Teens Grades 6-7 - This KCLS list provides title, author, and a short summary.

Classic Novels for Middle School Readers - Utilize this great KCLS booklist to find a classic novel.

Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present - This is a comprehensive list of the yearly Newbery Medal winner and honor books.

Remember our Mock Newbery Literature Circles last year?  Teacher Holly Mueller's Mock Newbery 2014 Book Club post shares "buzz" book titles for the 2014 Newbery and even includes a few book trailers. At her class website, Reading with Mrs. Mueller, she reports on her first summer Mock Newbery 2014 Club Meeting with her students.

Young Readers's Choice Award - The Pacific Northwest Library Association's Young Reader's Choice Award is the oldest children's choice award in the U.S. and Canada. The award was established in 1940 by a Seattle bookseller, the late Harry Hartman, who believed every student should have an opportunity to select a book that gives him or her pleasure.  Use this link to access the books nominated for 2014, the 2013 Nominees and Winners, and the Past Winners of the YRCA (Young Reader's Choice Award).

Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books - Like to read nonfiction?  The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, established by the Association for Library Service to Children in 2001 with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year.

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children - More award-winning nonfiction! This link provides the 2013 award winner, honor books, and recommended titles.  For links to winners in previous years,  click Orbis Pictus Links on the left-hand side of the site.  NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) has established an annual award for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Books Read in July

Try to read at least three books during the summer - one in June, one in July, and one in August.  Post the book title, author, and your rating.  You might also want to include the genre.  Feel free to share your thoughts about the book, but remember you don't have to post a lengthy review.   You might choose to use a star rating system of 1 - 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best book you've ever read, and 1 star indicating that you didn't like the book.

Get Caught Reading!

Send your photos of summer reading to me and I'll include them in a Summer Get Caught Reading post!  I won't put your name with the picture, but be sure to ask your parents if it's okay for me to post your picture on the blog.  

This is the photo that inspired me to collect pictures of my students reading.  In the fall of 2011, a friend and I were walking near the library.  As we started down the street, I noticed three boys sitting on skateboards.  As we got closer, I realized that they were all reading, and one of them was my student.  With their permission, I snapped this great picture.

Ever since then, I find myself snapping photos of students reading.
That fall I had several students who sat outside the classroom door
enjoying a few moments with a book before the start of school.  

Last year at curriculum night, I invited your parents to send me pictures of you lost in a book.  Here are photos I received this year (2012-13)
from parents who made my teacher heart sing
when they captured their child reading and shared it with me.

 What could be a cozier than curling up with a book, a blanket and a furry friend on a rainy day?

This student was caught reading in a cedar tree 30 feet above the ground!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July Treats and Patriotic Books

 Holly Mueller  has a fun blog post today which pairs Fourth of July treat ideas with patriotic books.  Click on her name to go to her blog post.  Each treat is paired with a book that has a patriotic theme.

I would definitely add Capture the Flag by Kate Messner to Holly's book titles.  Read this mystery to see what happens when the original Star Spangled Banner flag is stolen from the Smithsonian.  I met Kate Messner at the All Write Conference in June, attended one of her sessions, and heard her speak at the dinner that evening.  She autographed The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, my favorite book by her.

Send me your patriotic photos, and take a picture of the book you're currently reading (it doesn't have to be patriotic).  I'll post them on this blog post.  The book I'm reading is Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood.  It's the NPR Backseat Bookclub Pick for July.  The book takes place in the summer of 1964.  Glory's birthday is July 4th, and she's always had her party at the community pool.  However, the pool has been closed and lots of changes are happening in their small town of Hanging Moss.  Read the book to discover what happens.

My patriotic treats - blueberries in a red bowl.
Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beneath the Surface - Teen Summer Reading Program at KCLS

Drop by the Mercer Island Library to pick up a registration form for Beneath the Surface, the teen summer reading program sponsored by KCLS (King County Library System).
There are two ways to participate:
1.  Read for 12 hours, check off the boxes, and pick up a free book to keep.
2.  Complete all of the activities on the log, check off the seven boxes and pick up a free book to keep.
When you finish, you'll be entered for a chance to win a WiiU or a Kindle Fire.  Teen Summer Reading runs from June 1 to August 31.
You may double dip by getting credit for the books you read on this blog and in the KCLS program.  That's a winning summer deal!